Thursday, May 23, 2019


Yesterday I wrote about perfection - perfect practice makes perfect.  I'm a recovering perfectionist.  Or I'd like to think I am.  What I really decided is that somethings require perfection and somethings do not.  Taxes require perfection.  Gift wrap does not. 

I have the cutest puppy dog, Dobby.  I'll have to write about him next week.  He's 10 weeks old and we're trying to crate train him.  Yikes! Back to newborn land.  I was up at 1:30 am taking him outside this morning.  The moon was full and light, thin clouds (sorry Mrs. Rakow, I don't remember cloud names) were floating past occasionally covering the moon.  The idea of perfection floated into my brain. 

You know who doesn't require perfection?  God!  You don't have to get all your stuff first before you come to him.  You get to bring all your mess and give it to Him.  God's not an automatic fixer.  You don't bring you junk, hang it to Him and an hour later He hands you back a gift wrapped life.  God uses your junk to change you and bring you closer to Him. 

So yes, getting better at a sport or instrument requires perfect practice.  Strive hard to do each part of the play or piece to absolute perfection.  Get better each day but improving 10%.  Be 10% better every day.

But do not strive for perfection in your walk with God. Be honest with Him.  Let Him heal and help you with your junk. He loves your imperfection.  Always remember that you will never actually be perfect.  Only Jesus was perfect.  He gave His life to make you perfect in the eyes of God!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Practice Makes Perfect?

I was a Stingerette in High School.  Unless you're from Rockwall, Texas, you probably don't know what that is.  Stingerettes is the varsity drill team for Rockwall High School.  I grew up in Rockwall and I wanted to be a Stingerette my entire life.  I have a newspaper clipping of a picture of me watching a Homecoming parade and the caption says "Aimee Gheen, future Stingerette, watches the parade".

When I tried out for Stingerettes at the end of ninth grade, I made alternate.  That meant that I would only get to perform on the football field if someone was sick or out of town or didn't pass their classes.  Stingerettes marched a very intricate show with our band and performed a dance at half time.  I had to pay close attention at practice to learn lots of different parts. Wanted to be ready to go in at any minute.

I remember my first performance, I had to be a line leader.  It was going to be super obvious if I messed up.  But I had paid close attention in practices. I was nervous but confident.  Plus, the girl behind me helped me know where to go with gentle promptings. 

I think it was during this time that one of our directors, we called them M&M (Mrs. Martin & Ms. Moore), said something that stuck with me a long time:

In Outliers Malcolm Gladwell references work by Anders Ericcson that's become known as the 10,000 hour rule. Gladwell gave the impression that anyone who worked on something for 10,000 hours would become great at it, according to Ericcson.  However, Ericcson says you actually need to be deliberate practice.  You can't just be playing the violin, you have to be doing things that will help you get better.

Perfect practice, perhaps? 

Monday morning on his podcast Increase Your Impact, Justin Su'a discussed deliberate and purposeful practice.  He outlined 4 things necessary for purposeful practice,

Purposeful Practice...
1. has well defined specific goals
2. is focused
3. involves immediate feedback
4. requires getting out of your comfort zone - progress is made on the edge of your comfort zone

What are you trying to improve?  Are you engaging in purposeful practice to get better or are you repeating the same thing over and over hoping it will get better?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

It's Personal

The theme of #OC19 was It's Personal.  All of the main stage speakers used the theme as starting point. 

Jon Acuff had my favorite quote on the topic

Reggie Joyner presented 5 questions that will change a kid's life if you know the answer:
1. Do you know my name?
2. Do you know what matters to me?
3. Do you know where I live (how they live)?
4. Do you know what I've done?
5. Do you know what I can do?

Over and over we heard examples of how Jesus knew the answers to these questions about the people he served.

The questions have great application for me.  Of course, I need to know these things about the kids I serve. But also my volunteers.  However, the situation that stayed on my mind was school, the kids that come into the library. 

Many times the kids that like to spend time in the library are looking for a place to fit in.  Sometimes they are quiet, reserved or withdrawn. They need to know that they are worthy.  The library, the people who work in it, can be that place for them. 

My job is going to change next year and I'll serve all four of our district's library.  I will also work with an instructional aide at each campus.  I plan to share these 5 questions with them.  We can not know the answers for every kid on campus.  But we can, and should, know the answers for the kiddos who spend the most time in our libraries. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Every year I get to travel to Atlanta (actually just outside of Atlanta) to attend the Orange Conference.  Read about OC18 here.  Read about OC17 here. My first OC was 2016 and I wrote about that here.

The major difference this year was the number of people who went.  We took 16 people!  1 NextGen pastor, 4 Children's ministers, 4 Preschool ministers, 3 Youth ministers, 1 Special Needs coordinator, 1 Child Care coordinator, 1 Administrative Assistant & 1 volunteer.  I really like all these people but that's a lot of people to be together with for 4 days.  I'm a extroverted introvert.  I can do crowds and enjoy it but I need rest.  There's not a lot of time to rest at Orange.  The conference goes until 9 or 10 both nights.  Feeling like I need to sleep more makes me even more introverted.  So, there's that.  But everyone who went are awesome and I did love spending time with them.  It's always a great time to spend time from people from other campuses that I don't get to see often.  I had great conversations with people that are new(ish) to our staff.  Good stuff.

I didn't get to meet up with Carey Nieuwhof this year.  Read OC18 for more info on this story.  I tried to be proactive so I tweeted Carey BEFORE OC this year.  He replied and put me into contact with his assistant.  It turned out that we wouldn't be at Orange at the same time.  But, Carey would be at ReThink Leadership and so would our campus pastors.  Joe Paris to the rescue.  I told he what I needed, sent him screenshots of everything to prove that I wasn't crazy and sent him to meet Carey.  The pictures Joe sent me were priceless.  They made me so happy!
Carey seems happy to participate; Joe not so much

I was so happy that I didn't care about my name
The Sunday after we returned Joe told me I owed him.  I don't think he's thinking about this the right way.  I brought him into a fun and funny tradition.  You're welcome Joe Paris!

Orange actually ends Friday at 5 pm.  We went to our favorite BBQ joint - I can't think of the name. I think it's 2 dude's names. They have yummy rolls and awesome peach tea.  I'm definitely a go-alonger at Orange so I don't have to remember the name of the BBQ joint or the outstanding taco joint we eat at each year.  It's so nice. 

Anywho...Friday night we went to an escape room.  I love that kind of stuff. I've done 2 other escape rooms and had a blast both times.  The first time my team won. The second time my team did not win.  I like escape rooms but I'm not so great at solving the puzzles quickly.  Same story this time.  My team did get out of the room before hour time limit but not before the other team.  But, oh my goodness, it was fun!!

Our group minus one who was sick at the hotel

Our 2nd place team (out of 2 teams) 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


We've all heard the old adage...

I've been thinking about it since I started reading No Hard Feelings - The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy.  In the book, the authors are discussing taking a break.  The title of the section is actually "Falling Out of Love with Your Phone" and offers advice from Shonda Rimes and Dan Calista for leaders. 

I've read similar advice in the past.  I thought it was in Culture Code but I couldn't find it in my notes.  The basic premise is that if you lead people, you set the tone.  You have to make sure your actions, words and priorities align. 

In New Power, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms define signaling as "the way a new power leader makes a crowd feel more powerful through his speech, gestures or actions".  I feel like you can also signal negative things. 

If you, as the boss, say that you value time with family but then send emails at 7 pm and expect them to be answered quickly, you're signaling that what you've said isn't really true. 

If you tell your children not to smoke because it's bad for your health but then continue to smoke a pack a day, you're signaling that what you've said isn't really true. 

Of course, none of us are perfect.  We're going to send mixed signals from time to time. The key is to be upfront and honest with people. 

If you're the boss and your prime email time is 7 pm or 10 pm or 1 am, talk about that with your people.  Tell them what your prime email times are AND when you expect them to respond.  "I'm may email you at 10 pm but I don't expect you to get to it that night.  Please respond the next morning.  If there's an emergency, I'll text you."

Tell you kids that horrors of smoking but then let them seeing you trying to quit. Let them help you quit. 

Once again, clear communication is the key. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


One of favorite left over phrases from the 90s and my most used bitmoji is

I've always understood that WORD means yep!/oh yeah! I looked up the origins of it and found out that it came out of prison culture and is short for "my word is my bond".  So it really means "YES! I'm telling the truth!" Man, I love that!

Yesterday I wrote about a sign we have under our TV.  This made me think about all the words all over my house.  I had a weird realization that I love words.  What a dumb realization.  I'm a writer, of course I love words.

I really love the power of words to remind us of who we are.  Or perhaps I should say, who we want to be.  When I'm busy or under stress my lizard brain takes over and often I make choices that I'm not happy with. Choices that don't align with who I want to be.

So, I surround myself with words to remind me of who I am and who I want to be.  I have words on my computer. I have words on my skin.  I have words all over my house, I decorate with them.  Same principle as yesterday's sign - we talk about these things a lot but I'm hope seeing the words digs them deep into our subconscious.

This my favorite group of words in our home.  The first time we looked at the house, I knew I wanted to put in a banquette and large table in the kitchen dining area.  I wanted it to be a hub in our home.  On the wall behind the table I wanted something unique.  I found the word FAMILY.  But it wasn't enough.  Then, I found a place online that would cut your words out of wood.  I asked each person in our family to think of one word to describe our family and had those words cut out.  I painted each word a different primary color (primary colors are my favorite) and then did a light coating of gold over each one.  I wrote each person's name on their word.

This is a small sampling of other words around out house. I especially love our window pane with our family motto on it - Show God's Love.

With all these words, I'm saying WORD! These words are the truth about me and my family.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

3 Things

In the school world, this time of year is strange.  There's a lot going on.  We've got state testing this week and next.  This week is teacher appreciation.  Performances, banquets and graduation celebrations are filling the calendar. 

The weirdest thing that happens around this time is getting ready for next year.  It's a strange limbo. You're not finished with this year.  The next year hasn't started.  And yet, there are things that need to be done to prepare of the next year.

I am both anxious and excited about next school year.  I'm going to have new responsibilities at work. Sam will be a senior.  Zac will be driving.  Brennan will be in a new school building.  Lots of changes in the air.

I bought this little letter board in the fall. I'm having fun putting up messages for the family.  I don't know if anyone reads it but it's right under the TV so I have to think so. ;)

The last time I changed it, I wanted it to say "Control What You Can Control".  But, I didn't have enough c tiles.  I tried a few variations on that theme and couldn't make any of them work. 

So, I thought about what you needed to do in order to control what you can control.  Here's what I came up with:

I wanted "Pray" to be first because you have to stay focused on God above all else.  Prayer helps you know what to do next. I chose "Focus" to remind us that there's a lot to do but only so much that can devote time to.  To do our best, we need to focus on a few things.  "Work Hard" is obvious.  You can't expect to get ahead if you don't work hard. 

These are things we talk to the boys about on a regular basis but teenagers aren't always awesome at listening to their parents.  Hopefully, the sign will help the ideas get into their subconscious. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019


Funny, unrelated stories from our B-man

He and my mom were driving through her neighborhood.  One street was particularly crowded with cars parked on both sides of the street.  Nene was frustrated and complaining about it.
B says to her, "you do the same thing when you come to my house."  She parks on the street at our house.

B & I are working on his math homework. The work involves reading a chart and interpreting the data.  Several questions asked about outliers.  B & I have different definitions of outliers.  I finally get him to agree to my definition.  I even tell him I've read an entire book about outliers so he can trust me.   One question asks him to explain why he thought the outlier was an outlier.  He wrote, "because it's not part of the group, it's alone. This is my mom's opinion". He told me he wrote "This is my mom's opinion." in case I'm not right.

B goes into the bathroom after being asked to brush his teeth.  He comes out a short time later to the sound of flushing.
Me: did you brush your teeth?
B: ummmmm yes
Me: are you sure?
B: (no hesitation) sorry no, I only peed
He's a truth teller!

Our district offers Autism Awareness shirts and people who buy them wear them on 2 particular days.  B wears his shirt.  They call everyone to the office to take a photo.  B's not interested.  The principal asks him to go, he says no.  She asks him if he'll take a picture with her.  He agrees but says "but don't send that to my mom"

Me: are you nervous about your test (state standardized writing test) tomorrow?
B: about 50% nervous

One of the elementary school teachers flew a drone at field day and B got to check it out.
B: I was surprised that it was Mr. S.  I thought it would be the French"
Me: Oh, do the French fly drones?
B: Yes, it's a very French thing to do along with drinking wine and eating baguettes.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What We Want You To Know 2019

The past two years, I've written this post as a part of April and Autism Awareness month.  Here's 2018's version and 2017's version and the post that sparked the idea in 2015.  I didn't write much this year about Autism Awareness month.  I'm not sure why.  I haven't been great about writing this month all together and I've largely ignored Autism Awareness month.  I'm fully aware and I'm not interested in rehashing my ideas about Autism Speaks.  It's all out there and my position hasn't changed.

Yesterday I realized it was the last day of the month and I haven't written anything.  I asked the boys what they'd like you to know. 

"I wish people knew that he, more often than not, does not know what he is saying. What I mean is whatever he says is just the first thing that popped into his head no matter if it’s hurtful or funny or some like that."

This has a lot to do with impulse control as well as lack of social awareness.  B isn't trying to hurt your feelings, he's just not great at filtering.

"I would like people to know that he thinks through and understands things way differently than we do, and sometimes it causes him to have meltdowns or stuff because he doesn’t understand how we think and why it’s different than our way"

B just thinks differently.  Often, he doesn't understand our way of thinking just like we don't understand his way of thinking.

"B is quirky and sometimes he can't control his quirkiness.  But mostly he's awesome."

My main thing lately is please listen to us when we tell you the best way to handle B.  When he's having a hard time STAY QUIET!  When you keep talking or asking him questions or give him choices you're overwhelming him more and more, prolonging whatever the trouble is.  

"Autism is a curse and a blessing. A curse because people don't understand and may mock you. Blessing because I have it."  (excuse me while I bawl)

We are always happy to answer questions about B and autism.  If you have any, post them in the comments!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Analyzing Wins

Book report time!  This time around, I'm talking about Loonshots by Safi Bahcall.  It's a fascinating book about crazy ideas and big risks and how to help them succeed.  Well, I'm not actually done with the book so I want to talk about one point the author made that blew me away.
Failing to analyze wins can reinforce a bad process or strategy. You might not get lucky next time.
Wow! How many people ever do this? Most of the time we take the win and move along.  But did you win because you out preformed the opponent or did you win because you caught some lucky breaks?

When we fail, we are often good at trying to figure out why.  If you host an event and people don't come, you try to think about why that is.  Maybe you didn't advertise properly. Maybe there was another event that night that held a larger appeal.  Maybe your event publicity didn't reach your target audience.  And on and on.

If we host an event and lots of people come, do we stop and think about why?  Did you pick a date and time that really works for your audience? Did you partner with another group that helped your reach your target audience? Did you happen to draw in random people who didn't see any of your publicity?

Of course, no one wants to be a Debbie Downer after a great event.  And you don't want to demoralize people by saying "things went well because we got lucky, not because you did your job well."

Perhaps the best course of action is to enjoy your success for a few days.  Then, before a week passes, have a meeting to ask:

  • what went well?
  • where did we get lucky?
  • what do we want to do the same next time?
  • what do we want to change next time?
  • were the attendees really the people we were going for?  
  • if not, how can we continue to reach out to our target?
Like most things in life, balance is key.  Celebrate and enjoy success but also be honest about why you were successful! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


I've been on this earth almost 45 years.  Let that sink in.  I stand by my assertion that I often feel like I'm 12 years old, wondering who in the world put me in charge of all this and when will they figure out that I'm only 12?  I've had many disappointments in those 45 years.  I've had some downright rejections that hurt immensely. 

Disappointment is different to me though. Disappointment happens when you knew there was a chance things wouldn't work in your favor.  You knew you might not be successful so you're not destroyed but you're still upset.  Make sense?

As a momma, it's been hard to learn how to help my boys through the disappointments in their lives.  Especially when you're disappointed too. 

First and foremost, I have to check my emotions.  Why am I disappointed?  I need to deal with myself quickly and quietly so I can move on to their emotions. 

Secondly, acknowledge their feelings.  There's nothing worse than being told to settle down when you're upset.  If I could settle down, I would.  So, don't do that to your kids.  Don't tell them it doesn't matter, just get over it. That's sends the signal that you can't be trusted with their emotions.  They'll close up and stop talking.  Let them know that sometimes life sucks, sometimes life isn't fair and that's ok.

Once the feelings are handled, help them see the truth of the situation.  This is tricky because sometimes they screwed up.  But they need to see that, it's the only way for them to get better.  I like to let them uncover this themselves by asking questions.  When all else fails I ask one of my signature questions: were you my kind of ready or your kind of ready?  (see also: is it my kind of clean or your kind of clean?  were you being my kind of nice or your kind of nice?)  If you've raising a self aware kiddo, they'll figure out where they screwed up.

Finally, help them make a plan to move forward.  Again, it's best that the plan is mostly their idea.  But you can ask them questions to help them get to a good plan.  Then follow up and help them execute their plan.

It's important that they know you love them and you believe in them through out the process.  Don't forget to encourage them.  Take the opportunity to remind them that GOD has a plan and He has their best interests at play in that plan.  And that disappointment doesn't last forever.

What do you think?  How do you help your kids when they face disappointments?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Good Advice

I read this verse Monday morning and it really stuck with me.  Paul is closing his first letter to the Thessalonians with this stellar advice. 

Be at peace among yourselves - Paul is talking about fellow believers here.  Believers should be at peace with one another.  We have one HUGE thing in common - our believe in GOD.  But there are lots of different things that we disagree about.  That's why we have different denominations.  When the non-believing world sees us arguing about these things that sends a message.  This doesn't mean that we shouldn't talk about our differences but we should disagree agreeably.  You can talk about disagreements and show love to that person at the same time.  Let's practice that! 

Admonish the idle - Paul was talking about those who refuse to work.  It made me think about people who are, by choice, empty headed. They fill their minds with crap.  As computers taught me years ago - garbage in = garbage out.  Most empty headed people don't have lots of interesting things to say they resort to gossip.  Of course, it's not very nice to tell someone they are empty headed (see above) but you can refuse to engage in their empty headed talk. 

Encourage the fainthearted; help the weak; be patient with them all - These all go together for me.  I try to be an encourager and a helper to everyone.  Patience is harder.  It's super easy to encourage and help someone the first time they need it.  It's harder the 4th or 5th time they need help for the same issue, patience wears thin.  At least that's how I feel when I have to keep asking for help for the same issue.  I assume the person is thinking "why can't she get it together?" Here I have to remind myself that GOD doesn't lose patience with me when I keep screwing up on the same things.  Because I've been afforded that grace, I should work to extend that grace to others.

What do you think about this verse?  What does it bring up for you?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Nickle's Worth of Free Advice

Hello friends! I'm at a librarian conference this week.  My brain is fried.  I've been shoving learning in all day and feverishly writing notes and ideas.

So, this is all I've got for you:

Don't conduct personal business on your cell phone in public. 

You're welcome.

Just walking down the halls of the convention center today I heard conversations about:

  • debt consolidation loans
  • medical bills
  • medical diagnosis
  • problem employees

To be clear, I wasn't trying to hear any of these conversations and I didn't slow down to hear more.  

I get it, you're probably out of town and you have business to take care of.  I advise finding a secluded spot and not a table or chair or floor in the flow of traffic. 

That's it.  Keep your private life private.   You're welcome. 

Maybe I should add - don't write blog posts when you're mentally and physically tired...

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Talking Does Not Equal Communicating

Have you ever walked away from someone and wondered what just happened? You think you've just had a conversation with the person but when you think back, nothing really got communicated.  Communication implies understanding. 

When B was little and I was concerned about autism, I had asked our family doctor.  I was promptly dismissed and told "He's too verbal to be autistic".  At this time, B wasn't using many words but he was making a lot of noise.  He wasn't easily understood verbally.  But he could communicate.  He communicated with his sippy cups.  When they were empty I got a sippy to the head.  I knew exactly what he was trying to say.

B & Einstein
not related to this post but two cool dudes
These days, B's still pretty verbal.  He's also not always communicative.  He can ask for what he wants now and that's HUGE.  I can't tell you how important this is. For years I carried a huge backpack of toys so I could guess which one he wanted.  It also contained toys for other kids so they wouldn't touch the ones he had or the others that were special to him. He might not have wanted Mr. Potato Head right that minute but he didn't want you to have it either.  Here's some matchbox cars he doesn't care about.

Sometimes B is scripting and I have no idea what he's talking about.  Scripting means that he's repeating something he's heard on a video.  I haven't seen all the videos he has so I'm often lost.  In kindergarten and first grade he'd script in the appropriate context.  He would repeat things he'd heard and it would be appropriate for that moment.  It was fascinating. 

The most important times that he can't communicate is when he's overwhelmed.  Asking him questions to help him understand what's happening often leads to more agitation.  Often, we try to get him safe and leave him alone.  Not physically alone but we don't talk to him.  We don't offer him choices.  We stay silence.  Give him space to work through whatever's happening.  Usually, he can't discuss what happened right after the incident is over.  Most of the time, we talk about what happened at bed time.  That way, he's had time to sort through everything.  He's a truth teller so I don't worry about him lying to me.  On the rare incidences that he does lie, he tells on himself quickly. 

We can usually tell when B is stressed but we don't often know what's stressing him.  We can guess and we try to talk him through those situations.  We try to honor his requests during these times.  For example, he's been asking for us to pray for him to have a good night's sleep every night for about a week.  We pray at night but this is a specific request that makes me wonder.  So, I ask him questions and try to be more observant. 

B may not communicate traditionally but if you're observant and patient you can usually figure him out. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


In January, I wrote about my word for 2019: Better.  This past weekend I attended our church's women's conference, Bloom.  One of the speakers, Debbie Stuart, talked about her history of yearly words.  She had awesome stories of how GOD was working through her words. Each November, Debbie starts asking GOD to make her word known to her.  Once she knows the word, she defines it and looks it up Biblically.

I will admit that I didn't pray about what my word should be this year.  But I do believe that GOD can work through my word.   So, I decided to define my word and look it up Biblically.

- more excellent
- improve on

There are lots of Bible verses with the word better.  Lots of them are in my favorite Exodus.  Those are the laments of Israelites - It would have been better to die in Egypt than to die in this desert. So, I went to the New Testament.  Still lots of verses. I choose three.

For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be GOD's will, than for doing evil.
     1 Peter 3:17 ESV
 I love this one because I do want to be obedient, no matter the cost.

This makes Jesus the guarantor of the better covenant.
     Hebrews 7:22 ESV
 This verse is a great reminder that Jesus died to make sure I have a home in Heaven. 

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things - things that belong to salvation For GOD is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do.
     Hebrews 6:9-10 ESV
Better paired with serving makes me love these verses.  I also love the though of better things that come with salvation. 

What about you?  Did you settle on a word? Have you looked it up Biblically?  Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Rename It

At church we've been in a sermon series called Renamed.  You can see the sermons here. The basis of the series is that we are who and what GOD says, not what the world says. 

We also have the opportunity to rename situations in the same way.

"And we know that for those who love GOD all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 ESV

"What then shall we say to these things? If GOD is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 ESV

When we know and believe these verses, we can rename any situation because we know that GOD will not abandon us, He's for us, and He's using whatever we're going through for our good. 

Easier said than done, right?  When I think of the 'how to' I think of this quote by Maya Angelou.

Attitude is everything!

When we change our attitude then a flat tire in the drive way isn't so bad, it might have saved us from a blow out on the highway. 

A broken dishwasher is a chance to learn something new.

Autism isn't awful, it's a different way to thinking.

A good friend once told me that, most times, when we don't get what we want it's a protection.  GOD's saving us from something or getting us ready for something better. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Always Creating

One of the many things I love about B-man is that he is always creating.  He, like me, always has a notebook handy.  He loves to draw!  Last week came and asked me to order him some clay.  As usual, I put him off.  This is generally how I gauge his interest.  If he asks again, he really wants it.

Sunday afternoon my momma gave B $10.  About 5 minutes after she left, and I had laid down for a nap, B came to ask me to order the clay.  The clay he had pulled up was $11 for one color.  So we searched for an alternative and ordered.

The clay arrived Monday afternoon and B was super excited as we had expected delivery on Tuesday.  There were 36 colors, each in their own little zipper bag. They looked like little packets of taffy, soft and fluffy.

Monday evening B came to show me his first creation - a s'more.  "I even got the textures right!" 

I am a s'mores connoisseur.  I have an extensive s'mores Pinterest board.  I'm here to tell you that B's clay s'more did look like an actual s'more. I was very impressed. 

Ryan got home a little while later and I went to ask B to show Ryan his s'more.  "I already took it apart".  I guess he wasn't as impressed as I was. I would have kept that s'more forever.  But B's not like that, he's gotta keep moving and creating.  Always creating! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Thank you YouTube

I have a love hate relationship with YouTube.  YouTube is like the girl with the girl in the middle of her forehead - when she is good, she is very, very good and when she is bad, she is horrid.

B-man has learned a lot of cool things through YouTube and YouTube kids. He knows all about Figurative Language and a host of other stuff that I don't even understand.  He's also learned some choice words and lord knows what else.

What really gets me are the 'review' or theory videos he watches.  Usually these center around a video game that's appealing to kids like Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog. It's usually created by a grown sounding man who tells about some off the wall theory about the characters or walks you through the game.  The disturbing part is that this dude throws around some pretty colorful language - for no reason.  The video isn't fundamentally changed, just the kid watching it.  I do not get it. 

Any who...last week I experienced the awesome part of YouTube.

Almost every morning, I do my Bible Study and Prayer Time then load the dishwasher.  Last Monday morning I started the dishwasher before I left for work and it was making a buzzing noise.  It sounded weird but I didn't think much about it. When I got home one of the lights was blinking on it. Ryan said it had been stuck at 70 minutes and humming so he opened it. 

I looked inside. The dishes were dirty but the detergent pod was out of the compartment.  I tried to start it again and the same thing happened.  Then I opened it and went to baseball.  We had baseball Tuesday night too so it sat that day.

In the meantime I was searching the internet for help.  Did you know there's some websites were you can ask appliance people questions and they help you fix stuff?  And you can see how they've helped other people too.  Seems cool but I couldn't figure out how much it cost and I wasn't willing to jump in without a set price. 

By Wednesday night I had two theories: there was something clogging up the fan or the motor was out.  I was inclined to believe it was the fan because I felt like the motor wouldn't go from 60-0. Surely it would die a slow death.  Also, the motor fix involved pulling the dishwasher out of the cabinet and buying a new motor. The installation of the motor didn't seem too bad, though.  Cleaning out the fan just involved taking stuff apart and cleaning. 

That's what I did.  I started taking stuff a part.  The designer of my dishwasher sucks because almost every screw is different so it took 4 different screwdrivers to get everything off.  That's unnecessary.  During this process I found a big shard of plastic, part of a baby bottle and 'girl colored' legos.  I assume this stuff has been there a while since we've not had a baby or a girl in this house.  I'd also like to believe if something came out of the dishwasher missing a big shard, I'd have sense enough to the look for the missing part. 

I also cleaned out a lot of paper. We have curbside recycling and you have to wash stuff before you recycle it or they throw it away instead of recycling it. We don't also get the label all the way off, or let's be real - off at all, before we wash it. 

Then I used my 4 different screwdrivers and put everything back together.  I started the washer and prayed.  It started! I was so relieved.  I cancelled the test run and replaced the racks and ran a full cycle. 

Worked like a charm, thank you YouTube!

Thursday, March 28, 2019


I've taught technology in one form or another my entire career.  I've taught technology applications to middle school kids. I've taught teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms.  I love a good gadget, I can learn new ones pretty easily. I really like my Apple watch and my iPhone.  They make things super convenient.  And yet...

I can't curb my dependence to paper. 

I love paper. 

I try to carry a notebook with me at all times in case I have a new idea.  When I'm embarking on a new project, I buy a new notebook.  I also have a paper planner that I love.  I make a to do list in each every day.  Nothing beats marking something off your to do list.

You all know that I'm a total book nerd.  I occasionally read digitally but I don't like it as much.  For non-fiction books, I want to highlight and make notes in the book.  When I borrow a book, either from a friend or library, I end up making notes in a notebook.  I recently went Half Priced Books, opened my Nook app and ordered hard copies of most the non-fiction books I'd already purchased digitally.  I know I can make notes in the Nook but they kinda die.  They're hard to find again. 

What I do love digitally are audio books.  I love my Audible subscription.  But I usually only get fiction from Audible.  The exception is if a non-fiction book I really love is on sale.  For example, I love all the Freakonomics books.  I own them all.  Recently one of the books was Audible's daily deal so I snagged it.  It's a great balance because I love to read non-fiction. Audible helps me branch out into some fiction. 

Most of my love for writing is that it helps me remember.  My mind is a hot mess most days.  Lots of ideas and thoughts bouncing around up there.  Writing something down some how makes it stick.  Plus I'm a big fan of pens so that makes writing fun. 

Many times my preference for paper means I do things twice.  I write an event in my planner then enter it into my digital calendar. I scribble ideas in my notebook then type those ides into an email or Google doc to share with others.  I don't mind it because I'm also a percolator.  I like to think on things.  I write it down, leave it a while then come back to the idea when I need to share with someone else.  While typing the idea, I get an AHA! moment and I can make the idea better.

What about you? Are you all paper or all digital?  Or an hybrid of both? 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


I'll admit it, I do too much for B-man.  He's the baby, I think it's common for mommas to baby their babies too long.  Especially when he wants to cook something.  I like to cook. I like to cook by myself. I like to cook by myself and serve others.  I don't share well in the kitchen. 

Last week, B wanted to cook eggs.  He started with cracking eggs with Ryan.  Another day, he asked me if he could scramble eggs.  I told him we could do it together.  He cracked the eggs and I scrambled them.

Saturday afternoon I heard the squeak of the egg carton.  I jump up and run into the kitchen.  B is shocked that I'm not willing to let him make scrambled eggs on his own.  I explained to him that, at the very least, he has to be supervised using the stove because it's hot.  He agrees to be supervised but he's going to do everything himself.

He's not awful at the egg cracking but he's not great either.  He doesn't get shells in the pan but he needs to wash his hands between eggs.  We had another negotiation on how many eggs he could cook as well.  I think he would have cooked them all just to do it.

We also worked on his scrambling technique.  He learns to scrape as well as stir.  He learns how to pour his eggs onto his plate.  He even garnishes with some celery leaves.  He was super proud of himself.  Personally, I'm proud of both of us - I supervised and didn't interfere too much.

Later in the afternoon, B asks to use the computer.  He needs to type out his recipe.  During this process, he's talking to himself. "I could impress Gordon Ramsey". Apparently, he's been watching some Hells Kitchen videos.  The boy never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Best for B

I love so many things about our school district! Our 3rd and 4th grades go on cool field trips each year. 3rd graders go to NASA and 4th graders to go Austin. The kids love these trips (some parents grumble but show up year after year).  We took B to NASA last year, it was mostly successful.  B did have a meltdown that meant we needed to go to the car for a bit.  

This year's Austin trip involved a tour of the capital and then a trip to the Inner Space Caverns. This is different from both of the Big's trips.  Sam's group went to the Alamo in San Antonio and Bob Bullock Museum in Austin in one day. It was tiring but interesting.  Zac's trip was straight up awful - Washington on the Brazos.  It was so hot and most of the day was to be outside.  Also, the workers were awful. One man told my group about how Anson Jones committed suicide.  Not exactly appropriate for 4th graders! 

We were committed to taking B on his trip. We want to experience the same things as his classmates. Then I went to the parent meeting.  There was some talk about how much walking would be involved.  It was during the meeting that I really started thinking about the trip.  As much as we want B to experience the same things as his classmates, we also don't want to set him up for failure.  As I thought about the Inner Space Caverns, I had a flash of B becoming very upset, not wanting to go underground, feeling claustrophobic.  I did not want this to happen to him in front of the entire 4th grade!

When I got home, Ryan and I talked to B about the field trip. We decided that we'd have a B day instead of going on the trip!

We actually got started a little early because of the Big's many spring activities. Thursday night B & I were going to be home alone. We started at Sonic to get dinner and ice cream.  It was so nice outside that I opened the sunroof.  B crawled up there and chilled out waiting for our food. 

Friday morning B wanted to go to Game Stop. He originally wanted some new figurines but had decided he wanted a new video game.  I needed to go to Target and I'd promised him lunch at McDonalds.  He was pretty anxious to get going.  Game Stop wasn't opened yet so we headed over to Target.  

I got what I needed and asked B if he wanted to check for his game here.  Wooowhoo it was! 

We had a great day hanging out at the house. B played his video game and loved it.  I loved that he was happy! 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Let Them Know Your Heart

The heart is a tricky thing.  Obviously, it's an actual organ but is also understood as the origins of emotions.  The ancient Greeks and Egyptians thought the heart was the body's control center, not the brain.  It's hard to explain to kids.  "How do I ask Jesus into my heart?" How does that work?  What I explained to B-man was that when you are saved, you are agreeing with God that you are a sinner and that Jesus died to pay the price for those sins.  It's a little easier to understand that explaining that Jesus is going to be sitting on your heart valves.

To say you know someone's heart is really to say that you know what they care about.  "I have a heart for the homeless" means that person is driven to help homeless people.  Do people know 'your heart'? Do they know what you care about?  How do they know?

I think it is so important that people know what you care about, especially at work.  If you're a leader and people know that you care about their wellbeing, that can cover a multitude of sins.  In my work as an educator, when I know that someone really cares for kids and wants the best for their students, I can forgive the occasional disagreement.  However, if I don't know that about you, I'm likely to be guarded and weary.

Knowing someone's heart helps you understand their motives.  Don't you want that courtesy extended to you as well? The only way to get that courtesy is for people to know your heart. 

How do you let people know your heart?  Your words and your actions.  It can't be just one or the other, it has to be both.  If your words and actions to line up, people become confused and questioning. 

My 'why' is service.  My why guides my heart but it's not the entirety of the story.  I love Jesus, that's my heart.  So I try to serve people the way Jesus did.  I dig autistic people.  So I try to serve them.  Make sense?

What do you think? Do you think it's important for people to know your heart?  How do you show it?


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Public Creativity

Monday evening I was sorting through B's backpack.  I found 6 comics he's written.  I was impressed.  They all followed the same format.  He even has a publisher name.  I couldn't really follow the actual stories because I can't read his writing. 

Later in the evening, I tell him I looked at them and liked them. He was so upset! "Those were my personal project!" He wouldn't talk to me for over an hour.  He took them out of his backpack and hide them in his room. (I asked him if I could take a picture of the covers for this post and he said "no that would be just too much for me?")

At bedtime, we had a little chat.  I apologized for looking at the comics.  I told him I hadn't meant to invade his privacy.  I told him I was so proud of him. Then I listed everything I liked about comics.

B started smiling after I apologized and it only grew after I told him what I liked. He started asking me if I liked certain things in the comics.  It was great because he started explaining the comics to me. 

I also told B that when I was younger, I'd written a series of stories about boy and girl twins, Fred and Rita.  He asked me all kinds of questions about them.  Then he asked me if I like to write. 

"Absolutely, I do! I write every day. I work on my blog.  I want to write a book.  I actually started writing a book once."

"What happened to it?"

"I got stuck. I couldn't figure out what the character should do next.  Can I tell you a secret?  I'm a little afraid of what people think of my writing. I think I'm too afraid to finish."

"Well, how far did you get? 1/2 way done? 1/4th done?"

"Probably, a fourth, maybe less. But I don't want you to ever feel this way.  I want you to feel confident to share your comics or any writing or drawing with people."

Our conversation really warmed my heart.  I felt good that B knew that I valued his creativity and his privacy.  But it also made me think about how I might be transferring my fears to him.

I want my boys to be more confident than I am. It took me a long time to feel confident about who I am.  When The Bigs were little, I was less secure than I had been in high school.  It was constantly nerve wracking trying to figure out what I needed to do to fit in. 

Overall, I feel pretty confident in most areas.  But, my writing...that's another story.  I put my stories out here for y'all three days a week but I haven't worked on a book in a loooooong time.  It's kinda 'break up with them before the break up with you' thing. If I don't finish it, or start it for that matter, it can't be rejected. 

The only solution is to keep on working.  Or start working in the case of the book.  I think I owe that to the boys and to myself. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Our B-man is a sensory seeker.  This means that he needs more input.  He doesn't actually feel everything.  I think it's why he throws up so often - he doesn't feel full until it's too late.  Then he's over full and has to give some back. It's way when he says he's sick, he's really sick.  When he was little we thought he was having allergy troubles until he spiked a fever - he had pneumonia (he actually got pneumonia 3 times between 6 months and 2 years old).  He never complained or whined.  It's the opposite of the sensory avoider. The avoiders are the kids who don't like tags in their clothes or scratchy clothes.  As a seeker, B loves compression.  A tight hug will calm him down.  On stressful days we dress him in compression shirts.  He sleeps with a weighted blanket.  He even has a weighted stuffed shark, he takes it to school on stressful days to to keep in his lap. 

His school used to have a sensory room.  It had a trampoline, a ball pit, a beam, crash pads and a hugging swing.  The hugging swing was B's favorite.  It was made out of a spandex-y material.  When he sat in it, the spandex enveloped him, giving him the input he craves. 

B's Aunt Yaura (Laura) is crazy about him and so very thoughtful! She bought him a swing for Christmas! It's designed just like the hugging swing except it's mesh instead of spandex. 

Last week over spring break, we finally got it installed in his room.  He's so excited! He needs help getting into it but he can get out on his own. 

We rigged it up so that it will hold his pillow behind him as well.  He gets in the sleeping bag, I hold down the swing and he wriggles in!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


I love to cook and bake.  I don't like to do it often but when I get in the mood, I'm all in.  The other night I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post for cinnamon sugar donuts.  I love me some donuts.  This recipe was for baked donuts. 

Monday I was a little bored and was still thinking about those donuts.  It probably didn't help that I'd been looking at baked donut recipes on Pinterest.  I created a board and everything. 

Off I went to Michael's to get a donut pan.  40% off coupon for the win! I also went to the grocery store to get the ingredients.  I had three recipes I wanted to try out - cinnamon sugar, Nutella filled and coffee cake. 

Monday night I started with the cinnamon sugar recipe.  I wouldn't say who, but someone hassled me for starting small ;).  They were so good!! A bonus to baking these was that they use buttermilk and Zac decided to try some.  I tried to tell him it was gross to drink but he tried it anyway.  I should have videoed it!

The Nutella filled donuts required making Nutella rings and freezing them overnight.  I made the Nutella ones Tuesday morning.  I did not like them much. The actual donut part was a different recipe and it was not as good as the cinnamon sugar ones.  They were better when they were warm but I don't think I'll make them again.  They were more work for less taste. 

I was really excited about the coffee cake donuts.  I like the crumble on coffee cakes and the recipe had crumble and vanilla glaze.  I made them after dinner Tuesday.  Oh. My. Goodness.  They were so good!! They are definitely my favorite of the three. 

I may have burned the boys out on my donuts.  I don't care that much! I'm gonna keep making them.  The cinnamon sugar ones are super easy, I just have to make sure I have buttermilk, all the other ingredients are usually here.  I do think I'll get another pan.  Six donuts will not cut it with these boys and I'm not a big fan of waiting.  I'd rather make all twelve at once. 

What do you think? Do you ever get obsessive about baking?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

To Do Lists

Yesterday was the first day of Spring Break. I slept in, as I had planned and as I plan to do each morning this week, drank coffee and got back to my Bible Study.  I'm still in Exodus, my favorite book in the Bible.  I'm in Chapter 25.  God is giving Moses the instructions for the Tabernacle. 

I'm sure lots of people find these instructions boring. I'm fascinated by the instructions.  They are so detailed.  So specific. 

As I reflected on them Monday morning, I found myself feeling jealous.  Again.  I'm often jealous of the Israelites.  They were God's chosen people. They received direct instruction from Him.  They knew He was present with them, Pillar of Cloud by day and Pillar of Fire by night.

This morning I was wishing I had a to do list from God like the Israelites had:

My next thought was, maybe it's ok that I don't get a daily to do list from God.  I'd probably screw it up anyway.  I'd probably ignore the most important things on the list and spend too much time on things that shouldn't take too long.  I'd for sure mess it up.

As I reflected on all these I realized, I do have a to do list from God.  It has exactly two items on it.  It's the same every day.  And I, for sure, mess it up more days than I get it right.  But, I try to get it right every day. 

Thursday, March 7, 2019


Fatigue.  I'm there.  I was sick most of February.  I got bronchitis at the beginning of the month and I've had a hard time shaking it.  I've tried to pull back and rest. I haven't been getting up early each morning.  I haven't been working out.  I haven't been going to the Bigs' baseball games because it's been so cold outside.  But I am tired. I'm exhausted. I'm fatigued.

The real problem is I'm not really sure what else to do about it.  Because I live in 2019, I Googled "overcoming fatigue".  I knew most of the advice: make sure there aren't other health issues, rest, eat right and exercise.  Got it, thanks.

Next week is Spring Break.  I'm looking forward to being home with the boys.  Of course, we have baseball but it will be nice to get to see them in action. I'm planning on resting but not spending the entire week in bed.  I want to get back to yoga and my Bible study. 

Jesus spent time alone in the Bible. There are many many verses about finding rest in Him.  In the Bible rest is also associated with peace.  That's what I'm clinging to, the promise of peace. 

I think it's a combo of the time of year and getting over bronchitis, really.  I think Spring Break will do me some good and I'll get back to normal. 

What do you do when you feel worn out? How do you get back to yourself?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Leadership Podcasts

I'm a junkie.  A podcast junkie. A leadership junkie.  When these two things collide, greatness happens! Today I want to tell you about 5 of my favorite leadership podcasts.

Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast - this podcast only comes out once a month and is generally short - 20 or 30 minutes.  But it usually has good stuff.  February & March were a two part discussion with Andy and his wife about parenting.  Very helpful! You can go to the site to get more information and the discussion guide for each episode.

Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast - this one comes out twice a month. You can listen or watch it on this site.  The site also offers a leadership guide for each episode. Every other episode is a Q & A with an author and since I'm also a book junkie, I love that! Episodes 47 & 49 were awesome - Six Steps to Your Best Year of Leadership, parts 1 and 2.  Excellent learning in those two podcasts alone!

Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast - Carey's podcast comes out every week.  All his podcasts are long form (an hour or more) interviews.  Carey covers secular and church leadership.  I don't end up listening to all his podcasts but when I do, I learn a lot! Learn more here.

Jon Gordon's Positive U Podcast - I love Jon Gordon's books and I definitely need to be more positive! Jon's podcast is also an interview based podcast. The length of the podcast varies between 30 and 45 minutes.  Jon works with a lot of sports teams so that bleeds over into his podcast.  But I think there's a lot to learn about leadership from the sports arena.  Learn more here.

Increase Your Impact with Justin Su'a - short and sweet! This podcast comes out every day is never more than 10 minutes.  Not a lot of heavy content but definitely things to get you thinking about leadership and help you focus on the day ahead!  Learn more here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

5 Take Aways from Atomic Habits

A few weeks ago, I wrote a bit about a book I was reading, Atomic Habits by James Clear. I finished reading it this weekend and I highly recommend it!

1. Identity wins - decide who you want to become then work backwards.  Instead of saying 'I want to lose 20 pounds' you'd say 'I'm the kind of person who eats well'.  Decisions and habits will flow naturally from your new identity. 

2. Perfect isn't important - every time you do something that helps cement your new identity, you're casting a vote for your new identity over the old one.  You don't have to have all the votes to win; majority rules.  When you eat an apple instead of a cookie, you're casting a vote for your new identity of 'I'm the kind of person who eats well'.  When you do eat a cookie, that doesn't destroy your new identity as long as start casting votes for your new identity.  Don't give up when you mess up.

3. Systems win - this is what I wrote about before so I wouldn't belabor the point.  Winners and losers have the same goals.  You have to have a better system.  

4. Different might be better - some of the habits we are in response to something else.  For example, when I drive long distances I drink very sugary gas station coffee and eat sour watermelons.  Not the healthiest choices.  Not the only choices either.  Clear says it this way: "Your current habits are not necessarily the best way to solve the problems you face; they are just the methods you learned to use." The key to getting rid bad habits might be to think about other ways to solve problems.  

5. Boredom happens - everyone gets to a point where they aren't motivated to continue.  Those who keep going despite the boredom and lack of motivation are more successful. 

You can learn more about Atomic Habits by listening to this podcast (speaking of podcasts, I'll be talking about leadership podcasts tomorrow).